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Carbon Neutral Leggings & Slow Fashion

I recently purchased two pairs of leggings from the UK’s best known ethical brand, People Tree. The leggings are made from organic cotton. Organic cotton has an incredibly positive impact on the planet: the farmers, their land, and consequently the environment and eco-system and ultimately the clothes that they become, simply because the soils traps more CO2 and the lack of #chemicals used.

In the case of these leggings, they are carbon neutral as a result, as organic farming ‘holds 1.5 tons of CO2 in the soil each year.

People Tree Tag
People Tree and Assisi garment tag

Organic Farming Facts: 

  • -Avoids harmful pesticides
  • -Avoids fertilisers
  • -Better for the soil and subsequent usage as well as the current eco-system and local environment
  • -Prevents the spread of even more harmful chemicals in the environment

Why is organic farming so important?

According to this article #organic cotton doesn’t just:

1. require less water as it

2. Uses no pesticides, insecticides or herbicides which account for an estimated 20,000 deaths annually in Asia

3. Protects eco-systems as a result of not using the above

Sadly, less than 1% of the cotton produced is organic 🙁

4. Organic cotton is better for us as well, as we won’t end up wearing clothes full of harmful chemicals and the

5. Farmers, cotton factory workers and garment makers  (the supply chain) are exposed to harmful chemicals each working day-this doesn’t seem necessary or fair

6. As it is estimated that 10,000 cotton farmers in the USA dies from cancers associated with farming fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides

Read the article here

The FULL package:

In fact the entire bundle I received in the post from People Tree was pretty environmentally friendly: 

  • The outer packaging was made from recycled sources
  • The ‘plastic’ the leggings were in was biodegradable
  • The label was held on with a ribbon instead of plastic
  • The information about the garment was minimal and printed onto paper
  • There wasn’t any additional marketing like flyers or a catalogue

People Tree was founded by Safia Minney over 25-years ago. It has since earned itself an international reputation, recognised as an affordable and ethical brand on our high street today (although they don’t have physical shops, they are in smaller boutiques but still largely mail order).

Fair trade is a citizen’s response to correcting the social injustice in a international trading system that is largely dysfunctional, where workers and farmers are not paid a living wage, and where the environment is not considered at all…” 

People Tree has surely been a driver of the ethical fashion movement and has helped highlight the need to bring much needed awareness to the way in which the clothes we wear are made. And thankfully more and more small fashion houses are popping up with a clear message of transparency in fashion and consideration towards the environment.

In fact in 2017 and more prominently in the preceding years, the ethics of how exactly the fast fashion we all invest in (and all too regularly) is made, has become a burning issue for many high profile individuals such as  Safia Minney, Vivienne Westwood and Livia Firth to name just a few; as well as everyday consumers and fashion bloggers who are all making their own contribution nu holding fashion brands to account, and adopting  the hashtag #whomademyclothes, in an attempt to find out more about the item of clothing: what were the conditions of the garment worker, their name, their locations. The hashtag also has the capacity to act as push towards more transparency in an already very shadowy industry.

The plight of garment workers, most of whom are women, has been documented in ‘The True Cost’, a poignant documentary that tells the truth about the people who make our clothes.

The True Cost is directed and was conceptualised by Andrew Morgan, who uncovers a lot of what most consumers already have some idea about (but the lure of fast fashion is too tempting to resist).

As viewers of the The True Cost we can only be affected by the information and it could quite possibly be  powerful enough to make us change our shopping habits for good.

One of the participants, a garment worker in Bangladesh, relays her own poignant story of how her work in Dhaka means she’ll be separated from her daughter Nadia for up to one year. Due to the long hours and working environment, her daughter is safer and better cared for in the village with her grandparents, while her mother Sheema earns a living in the city.

It’s hard for us to comprehend not seeing our own child for a year because of poverty and entrapmen. Yet this IS the reality for so many parents working in the garment industry, all over the world. When you hear this story that new dress or those new trainers don’t quite have the same allure anymore, do they?

What would happen if The True Cost was played on loop in every high street store in the UK, the world even, everyday? Wouldn’t the outcome be able to tell us to depth of the problem, which ever way it swung?

People Tree have demonstrated that fashion can be ethical and kind to the environment while functioning as a successful business. They’re international, popular, appeal to a wide demographic, support their workers and are thoughtful in their choice of packaging (see below- the leggings were wrapped in bio plastic)

People Tree packaging
People Tree packaging

It’s a shame the reality is there are so few like them, and so few current high street shops seem unwilling to change their ways. For example, I took a walk through the high street in Bristol were there are probably 100 high street shops, and not a single-one can claim the credentials of People Tree. It’s sad that even with so much enlightenment and transparency thanks to telling documentaries like The True Cost, more retailers aren’t responsive in bringing about change quicker.

You can visit the Ethical Fashion Forum to find a long lost of ethical outlets and visit the Soil Association by clicking here, where you’ll find a number of brands that use certified organic cotton.

Instead of centralised action, tokenism is rife and unsurprisingly quite common these days. Consider H&M’s Conscious Collection or the LOVE range at Monsoon, all of which aren’t making any huge amount of difference to the majority of their employees, and ironically such lines are merely demonstrating garment industries inequalities louder.

It’s effectively saying, “Hi, welcome to {insert shop name here} on this side of the store you have the garments made by garment employees we don’t give much of a damn about, and over here in this corner is our organic cotton range, where we paid a handful of people a little bit extra to show the world we are doing as much as we can and that deep down, way, way beneath our profit margins, we really do care.”

POWER to the consumer:

As consumers we are able to use our voice, our vote, by choosing where we to spend our money, which can transpire to be meaningfully or meaninglessly. To this end, we do have the consumer power to affect positive change. And we can do this by buying less but buying better from retailers who are making a difference.

Ethical Fashion is already a reality…

This is not a Utopian ideal for the fashion industry, because People Tree are proof that it is a sustainable business model. Perhaps current high street leaders will make less overall profits, which are generally staggering by the way) but perhaps this is at the heart of the change we need address: simple greed, and with that, **perhaps** those CEO bonuses need to be a little less generous too.

Documentaries that portray the realities of the garment industry, such as The True Cost are only likely to increase as the world of capitalism and its ugly creation : fashion fashion  is pitted against individuals and companies who are using the internet, their blogs, their social media accounts to expose the ugliness its ugliness and question its exploitative traits, all of which are the direct result of 21st century consumer capitalism: supply and demand.

Ask yourself this: would you sacrifice rearing your own child for an unknown period of time? No! Then why should mother’s like Sheema? 

You and I know fast fashion SUCKS the life out of its workers, produces soulless clothes AND ironically makes us poorer because we simply buy more…so STOP SUPPORTING FAST FASHION TODAY and buy ethical brands that use Organic cotton for a healthier, happier world.

References:

Soil Association

Global Organic Textile Standard 

Huffington Post 

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Chilote: “Warm feet & Happy Soul”

Slow-fashion is more than just wearing higher quality clothing, shoes, bags and accessories . Slow-fashion can and does have a direct impact on the lives of the maker.

In the absence of sweatshop conditions, the workers, makers and crafts people  receive  fair pay, rights, and respect. And why we ever  thought its OK to exploit in lands far away is beyond comrehension.

In the age of fast-everything, we need to take stock and reflect on our consumerist behaviour. Much of which has been a driving force in the resultant environmental turmoil we now find ourselves in. Environmental and humanitarian injustice are often interlinked.

Our hunger for an ever-changing wardrobe has meant that people living in poor countries have been exploited: paid little, shown a disregard for the quality of their lives and mistreated in a way that would be illegal in the countries where the clothes are then sold, and the profits reaped. Fast-fashion puts pressure on resources, disregards the environments, often favours man-made (plastic based) fabics due to cheapness, that will ultimately become poor, finite items of clothing that will be rendered unwanted faster than you can say:  capsule wardrobe.

With all this negative press reminding us that we all have blood on our hands, let us turn to the co-ops , individuals and small organisations that are proactively trying to bring slow-fashion to the main, and encourage shoppers to participate in this very important movement.

I have been an advocate and participant of handmade, slow-fashion for a long time (and when I can’t buy ethical, I buy preloved). That’s why, when I found out about Chilote Slippers I knew I wanted to work with them.

About Chilote?

  1. Positive impact
  2. Premium renewable materials
  3. Ethical and transparent
  4. Part of the artisan coop network

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Chilote Shoes are beautiful slippers that have a positive impact on the lives of the women who make them as well as the environment.

Made Fair in Chile

Hand made in Patagonia, Chile, indigenous women are facilitated by a coop scheme for the production of slow, ethical products. These women reside on the edge of a beautiful lake, where they knit and assemble the slippers (also known as house shoes) using locally sourced materials.

“Buy and Empower”

“Buy and Empower” encapsulates the brands objectives and reminds the consumer of the power vested in us, to be good and to be bad. Therefore, by buying  Chilote slippers, we are contributing directly to an individual’s livelihood. Chilote have made their mission transparent, and actively encourage their buyers to learn all about the maker by attaching a unique QR code to every box, that directs you to a page all about the maker. (mine has yet to work, but will keep trying, and will add once it has).

“Warm Feet and Happy Slow”

Made using local sheep wool and sustainable ‘upcycled’ salmon leather, each pair of Chilote shoes are zerowaste bi-products and a no- sweatshop approach to fashion that proves that another shopping experience- a more personal, planet-kind and humane one- isn’t just a pipe-dream, but is already a reality.

“There is no factory so each pair is made “slow” with care and pride by independent artisan women doing what they know & love – knitting. 

Check them out: www.chiloteshoes.com

 

 

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Clogs!

I was on the look out for new shoes for my sisters upcoming wedding. I’ve been eyeing up a pair of handmade Swedish clogs for a while, and decided to seize the opportunity.  I rarely buy shoes, but when I do I like to choose a brand that looks like it’ll go the distance, like Dr.Marten’s. I have also tried sourcing shoes that are handmade. This makes the supply chain and the opportunity to check the conditions in which they are made, much easier. In theory, it means it makes it easier to see from where materials are sourced and how the workers are treated. I recently discovered, ‘Buy Me Once’ a website that feature items that will last you ‘forever.’ I try to take this approach to shoes!

I cannot tell you how I came to know about Moheda clogs, but I can tell you that I fell instantly in love. Their styles and varieties are all handmade, within the EU, and completely in-keeping with what I aim for and the principled approach to shopping shedreamsingreen strives to achieve and promote.  Moheda clogs are made in the tiny village of Moheda, in Smaland, Sweden. The factory was built 20-years ago, and shoe making has been in the family for five generations.

So, I decided to order some in time for the wedding. I was super impressed with the minimalist packaging. The shoes were packed in one simple box, with an elastic band holding down a plastic bag, protecting the clogs from water-damage. I chose the Betty flexi Clogs in tan. They’ve got a wooden sole and heel and the upper is made of leather. No plastic!

IMG_1549

The reason why we can champion shoes such as the Moheda clogs is because, as far as I can see, they are transparent in their endeavours. They are made in their country of origin, in a country that has high working standards, meaning the wearer can enjoy their shoes guilt-free.

Fashion should always be #guiltfreefashion, so join the revolution. Who made my clothes: #whomademyclothes

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plastic fantastic

Emma Watson attended the Met Gala annual ball in a dress made from plastic bottles. The gown designed by Calvin Klein and Eco Age is essentially made from garbage.

In support of the symbolic gesture, Watson took to her Facebook account to say:

“Plastic is one of the biggest pollutants on the planet. Being able to repurpose this waste and incorporate it into my gown for the ‪#‎MetGala ‬proves the power that creativity, technology and fashion can have by working together.”

“Each and every part of this beautiful gown has been produced with sustainability in mind. The zippers on the gown are made from recycled materials and the inner bustier has been crafted from organic cotton … The organic silk used in the lining of my gown is certified to a standard that guarantees the highest environmental and social standards throughout production.”

“It is my intention to repurpose elements of the gown for future use. The trousers can be worn on their own, as can the bustier, and the train can be used for a future red carpet look.” -Extract taken from Cosmopolitan Magazine

The sooner we stop producing materials that cannot be recycled and that are bad for the planet, the better. In the meantime, this creativity shows the strength and determination of certain people who are determined to make a difference, no matter how small it might seem.

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Ethical menswear with a British edge

I like nothing more than to conduct  a Q&A with individuals and  companies who have a vision and strong beliefs behind what they do. It’s  always fascinating in finding out what makes people do what  they do.

Which is why today I’m in East London with the gorgeous due behind the ethical brand ‘Cock & Bull Menswear’. Uncompromisingly  passionate about natural fabrics such as Harris Tweed, merino wood and hemp cottons, the  duo combined their love of high end fashion and slow fashion and ensure their fabrics are fairly traded.

Their brand uses ethically sourced organic fabrics that are turned into desirable menswear, right here in East London. Cock and Bull are championing the return of  the small scale cottage-styls industries that allow small-time creatives to realise their dreams.

Organic Menswear Knitwear - Organic Indigo Merino Cap & Scarf
Organic Merino, Hemp & Shetland Wools hat and scarf set. Knitwear for all seasons made from organic wool, hemp and organic cotton.

Cock & Bull producelimited edition menswear made in the UK. Using a rich colour pallet, original prints and an abundance of hand-woven and knitted textiles, their offerings are a distilled collection of extremely wearable and timeless wardrobe staples.

Committed to sustainable style and ethical production, the label diligently oversees each step of the production process, working closely with a team of experienced artisans specialising in weaving, colouring, knitting and sewing.

The Cock & Bull organic jersey underwear range is believed to be the only organic menswear range that is made in the UK.  The range is available at cockandbullmenswear.co.uk as well as at Murray’s Store in Crouch End, London.

I recently had a chat with Cock & Bull Menswear founders AA Lindsay and Phil Scott about the fledgling menswear line, their vision for sustainable fashion and their plans for the future.

1.Your creations are very traditional (images below) in design but your colour schemes are contemporary, was this a deliberate re-working of a classic look?

In a word, yes. One thing we love about menswear is the parameters that are traditionally worked within. It’s very interesting working with restrictions. And we like the way menswear has evolved quite slowly: that it is the details of design which have changed the most, and so it is the details which are the most important aspect of designing for menswear. And we love the established silhouettes, it’s fun to play with them, to push them in slightly different directions, to mix up the colours and details to produce a different overall effect.  We describe what we do as ‘new world charm’, which is to say that we aspire to the spirit and timelessness, quality and durability of old world charm, while having a modern aspect. So yes, currently we are approaching classic designs with a view to creating a very distinctive modern aesthetic.

Organic Menswear - Tweed Flat Cap & Waistcoat Tweeds
Bespoke Tweed Waistcoats. Currently our classic 6 button, 5 pocket waistcoats are made to order. You can choose from a selection of Scottish hand-woven tweed and an organic silk & hemp blend lining and back.

2.You use sustainable fabrics that are durable and will last a life-time.  Do you think fashion needs to change its attitude and become more sustainable and considerate of ecological and ethical factors?

Absolutely! If you look at the issues, there really isn’t any alternative. And it doesn’t just stop at the fabrics. The current paradigm which has been nicely termed ‘fast fashion’ – in other words junk fashion – is completely unsustainable. If we try to sustain it we are bound for a system meltdown. Quite literally, the situation is becoming an emergency. To look into the issues raised by fast fashion in detail would take much more space than we have here, but a short list might look something like this:

• Massive exploitation and pollution in the supply chain for the production of raw materials.

• Widespread use of GM crops, insecticides and herbicides, some of the most polluting agricultural practices on the planet.

• Exploitation of people working as virtual slaves for tokenistic pay in terrible conditions – which are often heinously unsafe. Hundreds of millions of people, including the use of child labour in the supply chain during the manufacture of garments. UNICEF estimates that around 150 million(!) children aged 5-14 in developing countries are involved in child labour. That’s about 2.4 times the entire UK population. That’s millions of children making cheap clothes for you and me, so we can refresh our wardrobe every season, or every month, or every weekend. In the UK – as in most developed nations – we have acknowledged for over a century that it is outrageous for a child to be deprived of its childhood and its education to enter the workforce. We don’t support that in the UK so why do we continue to support it anywhere else? All we have done is outsourced our exploitation to developing nations.

So where do we stand on all of this? Firstly, we pay very close attention to our supply chain. Using organic fabrics is the first step. Knowing that the money we spend on our fabrics – that you spend on our garments – doesn’t go to perpetuating the vicious cycle of farmers being dependent on  GM seeds and deadly poisons making their way into the ecosystem (cotton is one of the most polluting crops on the planet).

Secondly, we manufacture exclusively in the UK. UK manufacturing is a point of pride in who we are and where we live. It supports people who we come into contact with, their families, our community and local economy. And it also positively affects our carbon footprint. It means we know pretty much the name of everyone who has had their hand in making a Cock & Bull Menswear garment. And we know they have been paid fairly, even generously and are not working in demeaning or dangerous conditions.  It is a part of keeping our supply chain close and as ethical as we possibly can as well as being able to confidently shout about the quality of Cock & Bull garments. It signals a return to pride in the process of garment manufacture. Our clothing is designed to be cherished. We would be thrilled if someone who bought one of our caps or one of our shirts might pass it on to their children or grandchildren as vintage in 50 years time, and if it went on down the generations. It’s not about fast fashion, here today, gone tomorrow. We suppose you could therefore include us in the ‘slow fashion’ movement. Because we know, because everyone should know, that there is no such thing as cheap fashion. If you’re not paying for it, someone else is, and they are paying way too high a price. It is definitely time for us all to take a deep breath and look closely at our culture of disposable fashion, to ask some difficult questions of ourselves and of others around us. Then vote with our pound, our dollar, our euro, our Yen or whatever. Say NO to companies making disposable fashion. Say no to the fickle, flighty culture of fashion and embrace something more meaningful.

3.Do you encourage people to recycle their clothes once they are finished with, and if so, how?

We design our garments to age beautifully. That means fading is built in. That means fabrics get ‘broken in’ and become aesthetically more interesting with time, like a good Bordeaux. To be honest, we hope they will outlive a few generations. And where this isn’t the case, we would hope people’s first instinct would be up-cycling rather than recycling. Unfortunately at the consumer end there’s not really a lot of options for fabric recycling at the moment so we fear they will end up as landfill. It’s really a case of spending some time with Google, Yahoo or Bing to see what, if any, initiatives are within your reach. But yes, we would encourage people to recycle, and we are looking into a system where we can provide that service for our customers. Again, this is an idea that’s under development.

We are also working towards 100% biodegradability at least for certain items. If we can achieve this then a Cock & Bull garment could be composted, discarded back to nature to disappear completely and harmlessly, dust to dust. But this is still a work in progress. We need to look very closely at the suitability of our colouring processes in particular. Also not being biodegradable is our personal hesitation with using recycled polyesters. Recycled poly textiles and yarns are out there; there are some very progressive mills producing great recycled textiles and yarns – it’s a great thing that those precious resources aren’t being wasted or ending up in landfill, that they get a second or a third use. Unfortunately at the consumer end there’s not really many options for returning them to another life cycle. So I fear they will end up as landfill, and we’re going to look very closely before using these. But it is apparent that the industry needs to take the sustainability challenge by the horns by organising the recycling of textiles on a mass scale.

4.As fashion designers, do you take your social and environmental responsibility seriously?

When we first conceived of Cock & Bull Menswear, at first we had a lot of fun with the ideas, the conceptualisation of the aesthetic. We did a lot of sketching and created some nice palettes, we covered our walls with mood boards. But as we lived with these things, other things were nagging us. The processes we were going to have to go through to produce these garments were demanding our attention. It was our approach to these processes, as much as our aesthetic, that came to define what Cock & Bull would become. Because we saw that if it was going to be done then it had to be done properly. Because it’s a privilege to aspire to earn a living as a creative person – there are a lot of extremely gifted people in the world who never have the opportunity. But with privilege comes responsibility. Because we can make things happen, that is a form of power and we’ve seen enough to know that power requires responsibility. We’ve seen too much damage and suffering because of short-sightedness, greed and recklessness. We hope we are a part of a movement that will bring about a new understanding of the garment industry, in the same way, for example, the understanding of the importance of organic food has made huge inroads in the last decade. We hope there will be a massive industry shake up, that the status quo will be seriously challenged and that there will be a paradigm shift.  So, yes we take this very seriously.

5.Do you liaise directly with farmers from whom you buy the wool?

Correct. We have a lovely knitwear designer who we work closely with and we discuss in detail the suitability of different yarns for our designs. And then we go and find them. We spend a lot of our time sourcing, we don’t have a dedicated buyer – and now we’ve got a good pool of farms to buy from. We don’t use an agent or a ‘supplier’. We try to keep our supply chain as short as possible.  We’re too small to be paying middle men. We approach people directly. And we’ve always got our ear to the ground so new partners crop up all the time. The main supplier of yarns for our A/W 14 range of woollen scarves and gloves is Gartner Organic Pure Wools in Wales.

Make It In Great Britain Image

6.Do you think synthetic materials that are damaging the environment should be banned- akin to the banning of plastic carrier bags in Wales, for example.

Environmental lobbyists will need a lot more influence than they have at the moment. But in a sane world, it is definitely time that we introduce much more stringent legislation to moderate the production and use of such textiles, and in some cases banning may be appropriate. What we really need is more research and development. A good example of technological progress is the fabric known as Lyocell aka Tencell, which is essentially rayon.

I’m going to tread carefully here. Part of the problem is many of the textiles processes that are produced using highly polluting or toxic methods happen in faraway lands where we have little or no political reach. In this instance the only real statement we could make would be to ban the import of these textiles – or garments made from these textiles. This opens up a few cans of worms, such as how to police such legislation. And there are so called ‘free trade’ laws in place that make it very difficult to tell people what they can or can’t do. Environmental lobbyists will need a lot more influence than they have at the moment. But in a sane world, it is definitely time that we introduce much more stringent legislation to moderate the production and use of such textiles, and in some cases banning may be appropriate. What we really need is more research and development. A good example of technological progress is the fabric known as Lyocell aka Tencell, which is essentially rayon. The difference is, while rayon is a biodegradable fabric (which is great) it is also very polluting in the manufacturing process.  Lyocell, on the other hand is manufactured in a closed loop system meaning the vast majority (at least 98%) of the harmful chemicals never leave the factory and are used over and over again, never becoming pollution. Although it is quite energy intensive, we find these developments quite exciting.

7. What was it that inspired you to create a mens clothing range that is sustainable – was it a gap in the market for sustainable men’s fashion and under garments?

It’s undeniable that there is a huge gap in the market. We wouldn’t say we are market opportunists though. In the first instance we are creative people who wanted to create a future for ourselves on our own terms. We also had previous experience of the industry. As consumers our purchasing of clothing was very eclectic: from charity and vintage shops to market finds. Personally, having to track down clothes that suit your sense of style is much more satisfying than buying from a brand that is trying to present a collection that is ‘on trend’. Generally sustainable menswear is simply tagged on to womenswear.  No disrespect to anyone out there, but sustainable menswear wasn’t being taken seriously for some pretty obvious reasons – afterall, there is a lot more to menswear than slogan t-shirts and hoodies! It’s our humble ambition to be part of a sea change in this area.

8.How did you find setting up a small fashion house- and what obstacles did you face? 

Our core values pretty much defined our biggest obstacles. The first core value is manufacturing in the United Kingdom. Obviously the UK garment industry is only a shadow of its former self. So there were some huge obstacles there. For example we spent a long time looking for someone to make our tweed caps. We searched high and low and we could only find 2 companies that still make this kind of cap (our 8 piece ‘Rambler’ cap) in the UK. A third in Luton tried their hand at it, but it wasn’t really their specialty. In Luton there used to be over 300 milliners and hat factories, typically employing around 50 people each. Now there are 2, maybe 3 firms typically employing 4 or 5 people. Failsworth is bigger, but they’ve outsourced their cloth cap production to Poland. But the point is that in a town which used to employ an estimated 15,000 people in the hat trade, today less than a hundred, possibly less than 20 people are still in the industry in Luton. These estimates are obviously my own speculations based on conversations I’ve had with people in the industry, but you can see how dramatically things have changed. Anyway, we eventually found a great small company in Yorkshire to make our Rambler caps, and we work very closely with them and have a great relationship with them. And we came across similar stories with other aspects of UK manufacturing also. And of course cost is a big issue. The expense of manufacturing here is generally anywhere from 10 to 50 times more expensive than manufacturing in, say, China. So we have to shout about what we do, why it is so special, why it is worth paying a premium for our garments.

The second core value and the second great obstacle is, of course, sustainability. It would be much easier to go to Premier Vision or some other textile show and choose some lovely fabrics, nice and affordable, and not think too much about where it has come from. But we have chosen to look carefully at all our processes and to do research into the best practices. There would be much more convenient and cheaper ways of doing things if we were that way inclined. But no-one needs another fashion brand like that. We try to maintain a level of integrity which means we can’t always take the easy options. Of course sometimes we need to compromise a little. But when we do it is with a view to refining our vision and improving our practices. It is always a work in progress.

9.Who are your main competitors?

We really don’t look at the market in those terms. In terms of sustainability, on this planet we’re all in it together. We want to live in a world where everyone is working towards sustainability. And right now (in the garment industry) we’re in the minority. If we’re really going to make any progress, we have to collaborate, not compete – we have to support each other. Other brands that we admire are doing their thing and we are doing ours. We greatly admire [  BRUNO PIETERS  ]of Belgium who set up Honestby last year with an amazing transparent model that allows customers to understand exactly what goes into the production of sustainable clothing. He’s really set a bench mark for us to aspire to. Hats off!  Also David Hieatt (formerly of Howies and more recently Hiut Denim) who is trying to kick start the old jeans industry in the town of Cardigan, and is also doing some excellent organic jeans! So he’s a pioneer, and if he can get a chunk of Cardigan making jeans again he’ll be a hero in our books. Really, there’s too many to mention, from tiny initiatives doing bespoke work to quite large organisations. Hats off to everyone who are doing their bit.

 10.What is your vision for the future of Cock  & Bull?

We want to stay on course with the creativity obviously. That’s the engine that drives everything. There’s always quite a bit of product development and we’ll be expanding our repertoire –  the fun stuff. And we want to keep working on a fairly small scale, to do small runs of limited editions and keep as much control as possible. I’ve got a feeling that the public relations aspect of what we’re doing is going to gain some momentum now. Because the more we look at what goes on, the angrier we become. There’s a real sense of urgency, a sense that we’ve got to open our eyes and take responsibility for the terrible things that are happening. The more research we do the more the need for drastic change is obvious. So we’re going to be educating and informing ourselves so that we can improve our practises and share with others. Also we hope the future holds fruitful partnerships and collaborations. Community is very important to us and we’ll be hunting for like minded people so we can work in co-operation. We hope we’ll be able to continue to operate to our exacting standards and that we’ll become known for our durability, integrity and design. And we hope that we’ll have a small role to play in shifting the way garment manufacturing is approached to a more sustainable model.

Check out their website for more information.
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Green H&M

H&M’s long awaited Conscious Collection arrives in its stores today. It is a step in the right direction, and we thought we would select some of our favourite pieces from the collection.

Before we do, we should pause for thought. H&M might be accused of tokenism, but at least they are acknowledging a serious issue with a solution. Consider the possibility that one day all their clothing might be ‘sustainable’ . They have already demonstrated it is a realistic option. The collection contains pieces made from organic cotton and recycled polyester.

H&M are a ubiquitous on our high streets and seem to have weathered the economic storm. Instead of fighting a powerful corporation, perhaps we should try to encourage them to make all their clothing sustainable. They can be considered exemplary as they are setting the bar for other high street fashion houses with loose morals to follow their lead. 

Part of their investment in sustainability is the addition of clothes recycle bins inside their shops, where customers can take their unwanted clothes. According to H&M, up to 95% of the clothes that are thrown away could be recycled, which is why they have made it easy for their customers to recycle clothes.

What will happen to the clothes?

1. They might be re-worn as second hand goods

2. Turned into refuse such as cleaning cloths

3. Turned into energy when the above options are not available

4. Turned into textile fibres or insulation for the auto industry

It seems a long time coming, as these practices have been alive and well-utilised in countries less wasteful that ours, for centuries. The finite resources of our planet have become so vulnerable we are forced to reassess every aspect of our lives that have been normalised, particularly since the 1960’s.

In time, we will hopefully become a society, where recycled materials are the norm and bins for recycled clothing can have a place in all clothing shops.

h&MThe root of the problem  however, lies in the fact that our clothes are shoddily made and cheap in he firs place. Because our economy relies on a culture of concurrently buying and disposing, we are constantly seeking out the latest trends, made affordable by exploitative working practises overseas. This is a long-term problem hat H&M have confronted. The economic formula of the global North will need to be completely overhauled to accommodate a sustainable and fair world.

In the meantime, here are our top picks:

Shorts

We love these little shorts. They are made from 98% organic cotton and cost just £12.99!

Lining is made from 100% polyester £19.99

These wicked trousers are also made from 100% recycled polyester, very summery, very lovely, £24.99.